Abraham Lee. Windrush Cymru: Ein Lleisiau, Ein Straeon, Ein Hanes, 2019

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Trawsgrifiad o gyfweliad hanes llafar gydag Abraham Lee, yn trafod ei brofiad o dyfu i fyny o fewn teulu a ymfudodd o'r Caribî yn ystod y 1950au. Ganed Abraham Lee yn Dominica, ar yr 22ain o Fedi 1942. Cyrhaeddodd ei dad Brydain yn fuan iawn ar ôl yr Ail Ryfel Byd. Wedi iddo gyrraedd Prydain, fe weithiodd Abraham yn Lloegr fel pobydd, ac ar un adeg fel gweithredwr lifft yn y Cumberland Hotel, cyn dilyn ei blant i Stryd Bute yng Nghaerdydd, Cymru. Fe dreuliodd 6–7 blynedd yn gweithio fel cariwr cesig morter yng Nghymru.


Cyfwelai: Abraham Lee
Cyfwelwr: Dr Adeola Adellis
Dyddiad: 3rd November 2019

Rhan 1 o 4 [00:30:00]


My name is Abraham Lee.  I was born in Dominica. My Father is Disimis Lewis, my Mother is Virginia Lewis.  My Father a Captain of a ship, after he come from here and go back home, he bought a ship and then that’s what, well mostly he was doing that, not me and my brother and the rest was doing the farm, cos the farm always left to me and my brother, [Mother] looking after the small ones, things like that; but you see I got older sisters OK and they do the most of the working my Mother don’t do much, cos she got my sisters, let me see,[counting] I got eight sisters and four brothers, [big family] yes and my Dad and my Mum.
[Growing up in Dominica]
For where we grew up because we grew up away from people, it was great Police and nobody, there is a river OK, this is Government land, and this is our land, no Police could cross that river to come on our land, cos it was our law OK, on the farm, and no Police doesn’t cross there, see.  If the Police cross they be telling him to cross back, he have to cross back see, because we could do him anything and they can’t do us nothing, because it’s the rule, it’s got to be the law.
[The Farm]

Well our farm we grew food, animals, pig, chicken, whatever we got, he grew see, that’s what we did, cos that’s farm we grew up on, that’s where we all brought up, on that farm see.  We got all sorts, you name it, we got it.
[Fruit trees, Mango, Avocado, Bananas, Coconut] so you could name it we got it.  Dominica is in the West Indies, OK, and we used to grow things right, plus we there, nobody else can come and trouble you.
There is a main road that goes there but that is….they put the main road there, but before there was a main road there, or you couldn’t go there with your car or anything, they cut that off see, and they build one in the....I forgot the name, when I remember I tell you. See and that’s where they used to go from Portsmouth to....anyway, mind you, you could walk from there to Roseau on our side OK. But it is a long walk, or you could goes on the sea, but we goes to Roseau, which is the capital, cos Portsmouth was the capital, but because Portsmouth is smaller then Roseau, Roseau turned the capital, and then that’s all our life, like when I say ‘all our life’ I don’t mean ‘all our life’ because I don’t come here when I was small, and that’s what we do, see, we look after one another, we go to school.  Wesley, you see the road goes from Portsmouth to Wesley and (Guru?) to Roseau, and that’s how we do.
Me and my brother got to get up early in the morning to get the milk, see cos we got the animal, that we got to push the milk, do all that and after we did that, got to look after the pig, the chicken or whatever you got, after we do all that we got to take them in the field to feed, you got to take the milk out again.  The time we do all that and we finish, we get a wash, put our clothes on and go to school, when people the rest of the kids come from out, when they go for their lunch, that’s when me and my brother reach the school, so you could say to yourself, while I talking to you, how much school me and my brother miss; because the amount of family we got, cos that what we live on OK, so it’s only me and my brother because, my Dad is here [UK], Yes my Dad is over here, [Mum looking after family and him and brother looking after the farm] because most of them after that is all women, all women see, my two other brother born after that, but leave me and my brother, and where you see my brother you see me, where you see me, you haven’t seen my brother but he’s there. We always together, and mostly in (Picket?), (Guan villier?) Portsmouth and things like that (?).
I could go now, I don’t need any money, so long it’s me, I don’t need any money to do anything, you want this...before I say that they put it for me, cos they believe in me and I believe in them, and when I tell them I’m going to pay them so and so the money’s there, you could go home now and ask anyone (Guan Villier?) is Portsmouth, anywhere they got in the town, see, if I wants something, I don’t need money, I go in the town, say if I go there on holiday, I don’t need any money, cos they say “Oh, Oh, Oh your money’s no good” cos I used to be a guy, I used to have very bad temper, see, I used to have bad temper, very bad temper [laughs] see, and they will tell you, they will tell you that they says “He got bad temper” but he’s the best friend you could have anywhere, cos nobody going to trouble you, see, so.  [Why did you have a bad temper?] I don’t know, I just have a bad temper [laughing], bad temper, and you know, I still got bad temper, but I control it see, I control it, that’s why I don’t like to put myself, where I will get any involved in fighting or anything like that, and that’s what I’ve been doing all the time, just keep away from people.  Sometimes you find the most ignorant people, sometimes they want to raise weapon and this and that.

When I was here, first when I come here, I come to Coventry OK, cos my sister was living in Coventry, so I come here to Coventry and they want my sister to come second...third on the list. House was in London, see, so I go to Coventry and I come down to London and I get a job, cos I couldn’t get a job in Coventry and I just stay.  At that time it was ‘Teddy Boys’ OK, you heard about ‘Teddy Boys’? So once they beat my Uncle, cos my Uncles was here, because I got loads of family, my Uncle, my two Uncle was here in London.  So about 6 0 clock, (he?) opened the door, (came home?) and say they begun fighting and things like that (?).  So me and my friend, cos we go to school together, we come up here together, I didn’t want to go in the Army, but he joined, in the Army himself, OK, I didn’t want to go in the Army at all, cos it’s not my fight, (?) cos my family been in the Army, and they didn’t do anything for them, so why should I put my life there, see, so I didn’t.
Well me and him, we live nearly the same place, we go to the same school, we come here, I come to Coventry, he go to London, when I come down to London to meet my sister that was here before, I met him again, see and then we get a flat, it was four bedroomed, two sitting room, kitchen and whatever OK, and we used to pay £1 for it.  The guy, he was a Jew, he says to me, he look around he says “Give me £2 for it” I say “No, I give you £1” he agree, I say “OK”, and I do the whole flat me and my friend. 
It got four bedroom in the house, cos it was a big flat, so we do it all up.  So when we finish, everybody got their room, sitting room, everywhere, if you do see the flat you never see a flat like that before.  Anyway, one day, I heard a knock, so I open, I had just come from work myself, cos I used to work in Cumberland Hotel, in London, near Piccadilly Circus, my sister, got a job in the pastry for my sister, and I was working as a lift operator, after a lift operator, I was working in the bakery, like a baker, because my do baking and thing like that, so I was doing that.  So one day I heard a knock, I opened the door, and I say “Come in, come in”, when he come’s the first time he see the flat, he looked all over the flat, you know he couldn’t believe, the flat, he say “You do that?” I say “Yeah” he look, he look, he look, he say “Can you do mine for me?” I say “Well you buy the material, yes I can”, so he take me down the flat, he showed me, mind you probably I asked him too much money. He look and look and I says “That’ll be £3000?” he say right, he didn’t say anything he just agree, he say “But can you do it exactly like you do yours?”, I say “Yeah” at that time £3000 was a lot of money see, and I do it, my two older friends join us, so we was four OK.

Then things started to get worse, people I know started to get beaten, people can’t go to work, mostly women and kids, that’s why they pick up with the Teddy boys, right, so and …..four of us.  We decide we going to stop the Teddy Boys and from that time, if you’s a friend of ours or people we know, you got a number OK and when you got this number, anybody… get us OK, and we start to hunt them down OK, and that’s what stopped Teddy Boy in London. Really, see after that, because, why did I hunt them down? because they are people that would be hunt down, so I hunt them down, but that’s what I did. I left, after that I left, my friend goes to the Army, two of them gone and I was on my own.  I didn’t scared of anybody because I never scared of people, they think I’m scared of them but I don’t, see, cos through me and my brothers. I leave London, then I go to this place, I go there, I go there and I decide well, I’ll go get married [laughs].
After that, things didn’t work out, we divorce. I get married again, cos I always at work, see, always at work, see, I see my kids sleeping when I go, when I come back I see them sleeping again, see I give no cuddle and no hugs, see, and I get one day on Sunday off, when I come here, and that’s where I could see my kids and that’s what carry on all the time, and things start to go wrong.  Not me, cos I got the mortgage, we have four, me and wife, that’s six.  I am the only one working for the money to with the family see, and I say to myself well, that’s it, that’s me got to go another day.  I go in the morning, I kiss and cuddle my kids, while I go back in the afternoon, it’s the same thing they’re sleeping, when I go to work, when I come back, they’re sleeping.  So I only see them on a Sunday, because the boss give me Sunday, cos he says “I giving you Sunday, but you get paid for it” just to see your kids, cos the boss like me see, because I do good work for him, and I am (compel?) the other guys I am in charge to do that otherwise (?).
Things happen, they start going wrong, my wife start messing about, I say “Remember before we married what I tell you” tell me “No”, I say “You must remember that, I don’t mess about, if I got one girl, one wife that’s it, you mess about, cos I’m not going to mess about, never do so”.  I say “You ever mess about and I find out, the door, you go, but leave the kids”.

That’s happened once, the same thing happened again, I move, I sell the house, I move and I buy another house, she got two kids, I got two kids, we go to same church, when we get married and think everything was (?), she start going to University and College, things start going wrong, so I say well “Not because you go to University and get some education, which didn’t got to think, you got to change life” that’s not changing our life, the life is what you make of the life OK, it’s not what you want to do.  She sat listened to her friends.  I say well “When you come from College, and then you leave College, when you come to the house, don’t bring it with you, keep it out, cos College is not in the house, you got to go somewhere else for the College, so don’t bring it OK. 
Whatever other people do and da, da, da and all of that, it’s nothing to do with me, to do with outside, not inside, that’s where the family, then you don’t College, cos you’re just delaying education, so don’t bring it in the house.
When she come from College, she slam the bag on the floor, she start to shout, so something I says is “When you open the door, put your bag down like everybody else, don’t shout, don’t say anything, because you been away from your family, all day, then you go come quiet and talk to your family, cuddle one another, kiss one another, and things like that”, see and then after that settle for dinner, cos I do the cooking, see if I come from work, they’ll cook it, I always do the cooking, and then we live like a family.  But don’t start because when you come, the kids shaking like a leaf, frightened to death, see I say “I don’t want that”, I says “well your family is in here, your friend is out there, don’t bring them in here, cos they’re not living here, so when you’re with your family, leave them out, cos they’re not living here, so when you leave your family leave them out”.
“If you ask one of them to come in, that’s different, but don’t bring them into the family because they can’t match with your family, family got be, it’s family, see friend got to be friend, family got be family, wife and man got be the same, so keep that out”.  I carry on, carry on, till I do exactly the same thing, I say “Well, anytime the kids come here, they see you coming here they frightened to death” (?) and I said to (?) as well you know “We cannot live together any more, cos you mess about”, she didn’t tell me, I know OK, you don’t want me to tell you how I knew do you.  Now I say to her “See the door, walk out, leave the kids here, you go, this is not the kids cause this, is you, cos the kids scared of you, they don’t scared of me, (?) the whole of the kids come hide behind me, they shaking like a leaf, from there thing goes wrong, I divorce again and that’s it, I ‘m here talking to you now.

That is a long story, I brought up with my Mother and Father before he went to the (war?) and we one thing... my Mother in the house, we all follow my Mum, my Father we all follow my Father and my Mother, anybody in the house we follow, and we follow one another OK.

We listen to what parents do, but we see it and we follow like that OK.  You see if you is my friend and you come home where I am, you is the same friend like you is his son or his daughter, or he or her, see, and that’s how I brought up, and here you change here, I don’t know that at all.
No, no no, after the war [Father came here], well there was the war still going on, but he didn’t come here long...he was one of the first people who come to England, because after the war, the last world war, it was so badly destroyed, they want people to work for them to rebuild England, that’s why people from the West Indies had to come and he was one of the first of them who come up.  See I knew that because my Uncle and that was here during the war, and he stay, I think five or six years and then he left.  He come back [to Dominica] and then he bought a ship.  Most people own a home or a horse or anything for us, because they know we are the best people they could know and they work for us, they enjoyed it, they glad to work with us, cos for me... but they respect me, it’s one thing they respect me, they will never disrespect me, cos me they like more than anything cos I’m straight, see I’m not crooked, I’m straight.  If I say to them, I want you to do that for me, before I say that, they do it, go and have a drink...that’s how it was, cos you’d think I was about that high...I was only about twelve, but they liked me, you understand, because I’m a friend, and if you go home today and they says “you see your friend?” they’ll tell you, the best friend you could have is me, and that’s how I brought up.
When my Dad and my Mum started to get bad.  I said...start to mess about you know, and then one day, I come from town, I opened the door, I hear my brother crying, I says “broths, what the matter?” he say “broths, see them” “I see them” he says “you know Ma, Mam and Dad is broken down, somebody tell me they find him with other women” I say “well broths I could tell you this before, I know that Mother didn’t tell you anything” cos I don’t know what exactly.  (?) the one who christened me, you know you got two when you’re christened, don’t you, Godfather, Godmother and whatever, that’s what I know, because my Auntie tell me, see, home people they tell me anything, because they trust me, see what I mean, they tell me anything, and she was my Godmother again, and she tell but, [he say] “Why you didn’t tell me that?” I say “Broth I didn’t want to break anything like what I don’t know” see probably I say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing and it could be wrong. That’s what I want you to find out yourself, before I say anything, cos you older than me, he was my older brother see.  “He say “OK, OK broth I understand” because me and him was like that [very close].

See, you hit him, you hit me, you talk to him, you talk to me, probably I’m not there but he tell me what you say and I will come and find out what did you say that for? And things that go bad, bad, bad, see and that’s why I’m here, and he’s home, he’s home, he can’t see, he’s blind, my brother.
About 15, [years old when he decided to come over] but you wouldn’t know the difference, I already grew three inches [laughs], since I was 15 I only grew three inches. That’s what most people think, I was a man see but they never know my age see, you know what I mean, how tall do you think I am? [5”8, 5”7?] could be, could be probably a little bit higher, you see what I mean, so most people didn’t know my age, they think I’m a growing man, but I wasn’t a growing man see.


The first thing after, that my Mother and Father started to get bad, and that is the reason why I left, [to escape], cos first of all, I love my brother, more, sometime more than I love myself, right, and my dad know, if he want to do anything he got to get rid of me, cos you see everybody going to stand around me and not him, my brother could tell you, and see one day, I don’t know where I was, I think I was in Portsmouth or Guan Villier somewhere, and I come up late, and something he’d asked me to do, I didn’t do it, and he start arguing with my Mum and things like that, so my Mum says “What you arguing with him for, he’s late, he’s late, even though he’s late sometimes, he always do what you say, he’s the best son you have, the best kid you have” and that was true, it’s not me only telling you this is it see, cos most of my family love me, you understand what I mean, but I saved myself, I said “So and so and so and so” you see why I tell him that, cos he fight with my Mum, he hit my Mum and it’s the first time I ever see that happen, see, so I say to him, I says “You know, you hit my Mum in front of us, from that day you is my Father, but you’re the forgotten Father, never to hit my Mum, you’s a man she’s a woman” and I tell him that, I tell him it is the first time I talk to him like a man, OK, cos I always, man and woman, and man and Father, I’m not there, cos my brother tell me he do it before, and my brother doesn’t talk because he beat my brother, see, and I’m different see, if he’s going to beat my brother or my sister whatever, I’m here, he’s not going to put a hand on them.
Cos I got bad temper, I don’t exactly (warn?) my temper is, but when you small you got bad temper, you don’t know what you’re going to do, see and from there things started to break down, and I’m here today talking to you about the same thing.
[The journey over]

Oh yeah, [I remember the journey].  I come on a Venezuela boat, I forget the name of the Venezuela boat, I come up, let’s see, I go through from the sea to Victoria Station on the train, after I get on the ship, and from there, I go to London Victoria, that’s where my sister was going to meet me, but she was late to work.
I do got a suit, trousers a shirt, a jacket and a tie, and it was middle in winter Oh man, never seen winter before, and I was waiting for there a long time, you know, and I was shaking like a leaf. 


Rhan 2 o 4 [00:25:15]


A woman pass she say “Hello my darling” [shivering] can’t talk.  She say “Come in, come in” give me a cuddle and says “Come in, come in”.  Mind I’m very dark, cos I wasn’t that guy as I am, right.  I come very dark, yeah, “Come on my darling, sit down there” and she gave me a cup of coffee see, now I’m holding cup of coffee, I’m shaking so much, I never drink the cup, so full, all falling on the...anyway one of the waiter come [laughs], he mop it like that, he mop it like that he tell me “Mmmm”, (he forget to tip the soup?) so the soup’s falling like that, I couldn’t talk man, my teeth go “Awwawawawa” [laughs] you know when your teeth knocking together, I couldn't say anything.  I stay there for a while and I start getting warm and my sister come from Coventry.
I know it’s by here, so we leave, and the husband wasn’t very good neither, cos I did dislike him, he’s swearing, beating my sister, and a friend of me, he’s from Africa, he used to live in the same building, and after I come here after about two days, he see me coming up the stairs, he open the door he say “Hello”, I say “Hello, who you are?” he say I live here” I say “Ah!” he say “I know you, cos I see you before come in, when you come in with your sister, and your sister told me that you come from home to come” I say “Yeah” he say “What is your name?” I tell him my name, he says “Are you gonna be my friend?” I say “Well I don’t know you” I always speak directly, I don’t know you, I cannot be your friend yet, but probably if I know you, OK.  He used to take me to pub, on Saturdays and Sundays, I don’t drink a lot but, they give me two drinks see and I say “OK that’s enough” see and in a week was friend and things happen, and here am I.


Wales, well now, the first wife I have OK, she take the kids, while I was working and she come up here, I don’t know Cardiff, I never been Cardiff before, and when I am home I says, first of all when I come I know nobody, cos the kids used to run around at me, if I woke up during the day, but the house is cold, nobody been see, anyway I do the cooking, I thought is going by the friend or whatever see.  I was there about 7 0’clock, and I didn’t see anybody come, anyway I didn’t say anything, I didn’t go to the Police, cos they with their Mother so, the Police will tell me the same thing, anyway I didn’t see them, but I still go to work. 
So some day she phone or letter or something, telling me where she is, to come.  So I come up to Cardiff, leave my flat to my friend, and I come to Cardiff, and then she was living Bute Street, you know where the wharf is, either before the wharf, it was a kind of museum there or pub there, you know you go under the... I forgot the name of it, and you go out, and you go through the arcade under the arcade, and I was living above the arcade, see that’s where we was living, (?) and that’s where we get a flat.  Then from there I stay in Cardiff, my daughter Dion, she born in….where we are now, St David Hospital, that’s where my daughter born, St David Hospital, [19]65 she was born, we stayed there together, I got a job, I was working with somebody who was, you know The Bridge, after that it’s a place they do swim at the bath, I used to go there, press make the bath, you know I been hanging about since.
That’s why I live in Wales [very different] that’s why I stay. Well the people was friendly, you could leave your house open, go to town, go where ever  you want, your neighbour will look after your house.  Nobody will trouble you at all see, and I say well that’s better than where I come from, and I stay there and I stayed in Cardiff, up to today the best (?) in the whole country.  I used to be Hod Carrier, I do Hod Carrier for seven years, five, six, seven years, I do Hod Carrier, work with brickies.
[Hod Carrier?] you know before when they do the brickie, the brickies, and the person who being the brickie for them, that is the Hod Carrier, because you know you put something on your shoulder put brick on it and you work hard everywhere, that’s called Hod Carrier, five or six years I do that, and I have to leave to look after my kids, and that’s me today talking.

[Body Builder]

Yeah, I had a big, massive, [laughs] but I was let off, I shake this chair, it’s true you know, if I goes like that, it [breaks].  I was 32” waist, I was 40”, 56” chest, yeah see.  (I could raise you with my hand?), cos you know why I do that, I want to be a ‘toff’ OK.  I don’t want any man to put on me, hand on me and walk, go away anywhere, you put your hand on me, you got to explain yourself very good, otherwise you stay there, you don’t move anywhere, cos [laughs] I’m not a bad person, but see first what happened; when I was going to school, six kids beat me up, OK and me alone, six kids beat me up. I tell my brother, my brother taught me how to fight, because he could fight, whatever, but I didn’t tell him anything, I keep that in me OK.  I stay with those seven (nights?) I couldn’t anything much, cos they beat me bad, but I say to myself, (?) I get hurt good, and after I was OK, after my brother start doing all kind of fighting, see, and I say OK, I going to hunt them down only me alone, no one I don’t want anyone with me, cos what I do, what ever I don’t do is only me alone. No with (Police?) OK only me.
We goes to new school, it’s Capuchin, the place they live, six of them beat me up, I track them down, I beat them one by one, two by two, three by three.  The last one, when I come to London, [19]50s, I think 51 or 52, see, I see him, he didn’t see me, I go to his house, he didn’t really know it was me, see, cos I grew, and when the same friend goes to the Army he told me about this, he says “Oh sure, living here, Ahhh!” but he doesn’t know I’m looking for him, cos I beat the rest in home already see there’s only he left, and I beat him bad, after he was crying, I say “why you crying now that you’re big man, you so and so”, so I get nasty, so he say “You hit me” I say “you’re forgotten”, I say “Remember so, and so, and so and so, in school? The six of you beat me, I was alone, OK well you is the last, because I beat all of them, when I get better and my brother show me how to fight properly.  I went and beat the whole five of you”, one was sleeping in his house, never want to come out, I say “You see it, but I’m smarter than you” he got a high floor OK, and I do slip there on the step where he going to put his feet down, with machete in my hand OK, if it cut, it cut his fucking feet off, sorry I swear right, and I do that until I catch him, and I beat him up, he cry, I says “well I cry cos you beat me up, and I couldn’t beat all of you, but now two left, you’s one of the second last”.  He was crying, and it felt me, cos he was crying.  I says to him, I says “You cry, but you didn’t stop hitting me, innit, you keep on”.  The other man, I catch him in London, that was the finest see and I beat him to….he was crying “What you hit me for, what you hit me for?” I says “You forgotten me, remember when six of you beat me in school, right, I was on my own, I couldn’t beat six of you, cos some of you bigger and older than me”, I say “Well, I beat the rest one by one, two by two and everything, that’s when he was….you, see and I beat him up.  I talk to him, I tell him before and I beat him up; I felt too sure, you’re not still going to walk free.  You know I feel terrible, I feel very terrible, hurt me right, I don’t know why, it’s so long and then to beat him and he was crying making it worse again, you know what I mean.
Anyway my friend tell him he say “Well, you beat him didn’t you, gang up on him, he couldn’t beat all of you, but you was the last one, he tell me and he beat you, and he say to me “I tell him” and I said “well you shouldn’t have done, because you know he will hunt you down, don’t get (?) I’ll hunt him down see, cos I used to be a seaman also, know what I mean, so I could go anywhere, and that’s the reason I’m here, [I used to be a] Seaman because of my Dad, and that’s me today.

[Came over on a British Passport] Yeah, cos I never go to school here, see my sister never send me to school, cos I used to live with my sister, I told you, yeah, didn’t send me to school, so I say to myself, most people here doesn’t know my age see, so that’s why see I was start looking for work, started working [at 15], they didn’t know I was only 15, but I’m, 5ft 9” now, I wasn’t 5ft 5” cos I was young and I grew pretty quick, and I stopped, and that’s me now.

Yes, it was because it was the Teddy Boys, see it’s not against any black people doesn’t care who you are, they know you’re black, and they hit women, children and whatever, so I say well, this is the place for you and I could do martial arts, I don’t do martial arts for a long time now, and I could do that, I teach my three friend there, how to defend themselves, cos my brother teach me, it was OK.  As I say, [as long as] you got our number, all you had to do is press there and your number come up, don’t have to talk to us, don’t have to anything, cos when you press your number’s there and we know it’s you, see.  So we got to follow and that see.

Well, matter of fact I doesn’t feel really, it’s a good thing, see, cos I spend more time here than anywhere else.  I still British and feel like British.  I mean I got a (?) on my passport, when I get my passport.  It says on the passport, you is a British Citizen, Wales, that’s with Cardiff, Ireland and Scotland, on my passport, OK I’m a Citizen of that Great Britain see, that’s what wrote on my passport. 
Now I was living in Richard Street 1967, when Dominique turned independent, that’s when I get the letter from Government, tell me to take that to my solicitor and they will sign that, then I’m a Great Britain Citizen, Wales, Ireland and Scotland on my Passport.  So if they say that, I’m British already so this must be me.
I don’t feel anything really [British or Dominican] If I was in a country it’s Dominican I’d feel the same, id I say I’d feel the same, it’s no good like you take my people, my country to be yours and thing you’re going to change it, you can’t, you could tell me what I’ve been, what I is, but that’s what you give me,  that’s what I accept.  If I did not accept that I would not be British is it.  But I couldn’t do anything about it, cos my Dad and Mam.
Cooking, West Indian People is the greatest cook in the whole world, mostly my Mam, [laughs] I tell you a joke OK, now if like home, on likes a Sunday, Sunday that’s when we do the best dishes, the best, best, best one is Christmas, you see, my Mum cook and all the family cook, we got a very big house, so when all the family come down, could be a hundred of us [laughs]. Cos all where my Grandmother come from, they all is family see and we got loads of family they come down to us for Christmas, you know, so we have a very very, good Christmas, and I like that because my Mam could cook on Sundays. Saturday she cook beef I don’t want food, I hate beef [laughs], she cook beef.  I hate beef, I say I don’t want food, but she cook aside for me, she do put the beef in for me, cos I hate beef, I don’t like beef, see anything else she cook OK I eat, but beef.  But my brother like beef, when my Mother she cook beef, so I give to my brother the beef and she like….I hate beef. Up to now I hate beef, I don’t even eat it now, I still doesn’t eat it.
[Christmas time]

Half of my family, come down, cos we got a big house, like the Queen have the big house thing like that, cos when they was occupy home, they’re  big houses see, and that’s what my Grandmother, my Great Grandmother yeah.  So we got a big house and all of them used to come down. Mind you I wasn’t that old or young but I could still remember.  All my Uncles things like that they look like Chinese, they all come down.  I don’t look like Chinese, but matter of fact I am the darkest one in the family OK, and like myself, like my family, I got family in France, I got family nearly all over the world, I got my niece in France and a brother in France.  When she went to go to University, she get in touch with me, she tell me, she want to go to so and so, if I could do so and so, I say “OK”.
But you see they only want things when they want it, after you give it to them, they forget about you, you know and that’s going on, see, you know I being her here, you see here here didn’t you? Now I was dreaming about something and I tell her, why I tell her, cos I went to somebody who knows about that kind of thing, specialist doing that, and he tell me, he say “most people, that happen to them OK, you tell her, and she will go away” I did tell her, she told me she was going for about two or three months for the (University?) or weeks or whatever, but she come back, and she never told me, she never phoned me, she never tell anything.  So about three weeks ago, I took my phone, and I just press to see if that number would ring, it ringing and she answer, and that number is here so she cannot answer that number unless she is here.  I say Oh, must be something wrong what did I do? And I feel really, really, bad cos I love my family, you see, and (Roshlee?) is my brother children, grandchildren you know. Cos Hammer is my brother daughter, and I love my brother and I love them, and I look after all of my brother kids, and they know that themselves.
When I go home, they all go around me, see what I mean. If I don’t go sleep in the house with them, and things like that they upset, and so it was same thing.  So I went to the Professor who heard about this kind of (?) that I’m talking about, he told me that happen in families, I say “Yes, but I’m different” my family’s, my family, and he do things for me and things like that, but he went away,  because he’s not from here, and I down like this, she didn’t say anything.  I says what I dreaming it’s a fact.  What I feel, it’s not what you feel, so I can’t take my feelings to the boss, you feel, I can’t tell you what I feel, how I am, OK.  I says, you don’t have to worry about that, cos I’m never going to do that at all, OK. So you better forget about it, but he ask me to tell you, which I did and I probably think that’s why she never phoned.  It’s really stupid, cos, if you see I went home now, they fall over me, and it’s only me in the family they do that with, it’s only me. 

Up to now she haven’t phoned me, I don’t know why she haven’t phoned me, that’s like a nightmare, see when you got a nightmare, you tell somebody about a nightmare, you been having and she do that, didn’t much care about you is there. Cos I got nightmare, I get up in the night sweating, all my clothes, I got to get up and change, and I tell you something, you run away, what you run away for, I’m telling you I need help and then, you probably could help, and you don’t do anything in fact you make it worse, you walk out on me.
If you see I never going to walk out on her, (yeah?) but she gone and I can’t tell you what she walk out on, what happened, because she had whatever she want in the house, I not there at all, she got a key, she go in, she go out, whatever, it doesn’t matter with me, she got her own place to sleep, I got my place to sleep, she do the cooking, I do the cooking, and I was glad she was here because of course getting quite happy, cos I stay so long on my own, and she walks, so I can’t do anything about it.  I don’t think she will come back, I’m not going to bother with her now; cos I love my family, deep, deep, deep, deep.

Rhan 3 o 4 [00:02:44]

[Advice to younger self]

Got very hard advice, because, you see if you got family, and treat you like my family treat me, when I was with the family home.  You probably got an idea of families and friend, and one is not a friend, you probably get a kind of mix thinking; but you see, I myself, I leave home, I come here, I come with my sisters, I got two sister here, two husband here, that’s my sister husband and they wasn’t bad to me.  So I take them like family, but then the sister I come up with, she was living in London and I were living Coventry, anyway, when I come down to London, I go by my sister, she’s older than me, she’s the fourth oldest, and I used to go by her, during the day, you used to go out and do the shopping things like that, I used to go with her, she used to come by my flat, I didn’t have a flat, I had a room, I did got.  Things was like, beginning little families, understand what I mean?  But it change, things start changing, I don’t think she changed much, but I think the husband, you see a change, cos he make her change or whatever.  I say to myself, well, I better get a place of my own and stay there, and learn the way of this country living.

Rhan 4 o 4 [00:15:08]



To the young, well, I always say to the kids, always listen to your parents.  Your parents know more that you, and that’s how you going to be brought up, by them and with them for a long time.  Always try to listen to what they say, hear what they say, do what they say, most of all respect your family because they was on this earth before you; they could tell you their own story themselves, and how their Mother bring them, and they is probably trying to brought you up exactly the same way, because, parents here before and how their Mother bring them and they probably trying to being you up exactly the same way, because parents here before, and the way we brought up from the West Indies, it’s totally different, because brought up, different attitude, different everywhere, right.  We respect our family, we believe our family, they teach us the right way, and we follow what they teach us.  Cos I could still remember, how I been brought up, how my family brought me up, and not the way here is brought up their children, totally different; but my way and their way is too different, two different law, their law and my law is different.  I believe myself, parents and children, see, the children going to listen to the Mum, believe what the Mum said or believe Father, probably you got older sister and brothers and things like that, that’s if you could get the same way that we brought up.
Our children, home I’m talking about, not here, because here got no ideas of bringing kids up at all, cos kids are ruined, completely ruined, if they listen to the parent it will have no idea, where they going, where they come from, that’s what I know here, cos that’s the way I see it, and you can only repeat what you see. Probably not what you know all over country, but what you know is happening in front of you, and that is a bad way to bring kids, they don’t listen to their parents, they don’t obey their parents, they beat their parents off, they discuss things that we from West Indies, we can’t even answer, what about, not just beat parents up, you know what I mean, swearing and things like that, no, I don’t think that is the right way to being up children.

I was born on the 22/9/1942.  Well as I said to you, home is a different attitude than here, but whatever I tell you home that is what I was doing home.  When I come here it’s totally change, I got thirteen different occupation, thirteen, that is ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, it’s a lot, cos I say to myself I don’t want to be out of work, I don’t get the experience of go to job, so I go to the University, College it was and I learn about (?) I say to myself, I don’t ever want to be out of work, cos you be out of work, you probably live on other people, and why I do that because I was out of work, and they give me a ticket and tell me where to take it, and they say I got to go and sign every week, that’s only way they give me money and things like that, so I didn’t know about it, I said to the lady, “What I doing that for?” “She say when you out of work, you not working, that’s why we give you money to live on”.  I say “well I don’t like that do” she says “Well nothing you can do really, because you got to take it to pay your rent, to buy food and things like that” I say “Yeah, I know you don’t have to tell me that I know” but it doesn’t feel me, cos I never take money from other people” she say “You’re not taking money from other people”, she say “You pay tax, insurance, council tax whatever, pension and all that, that’s what you getting back” I say “Oh! But it still doesn’t feel right”.
My (health?) start to mess about, take my (teeth?) and I was living here now, I didn’t get a full state pension, cos I was looking after my kids, so I get pension credit and tax, state pension, so I can’t change it, cos I was looking after kids I think, looking after kids is the best thing to do, and the Welfare people tell me, and the Council, whatever the Government people whatever tell me to look after my son, my kids too.
Got a Mrs (Conliff?) who live in Bradford, she brought my ex-wife up, and she told me about her, I say well that is not early enough, it’s too late, but I still believe it see, then I find out what is really, you got to (look after?) kids, know what I mean? Which I did, I did the best I can, but when they grow up, I couldn’t understand my kids, I just couldn’t understand them.  You know they’re not even writing me, not phoning me now, I don’t know.  All my life I worked to support them, they don’t need anything, my last son he go to University, he want, I pay, he live in Llanwern, Llanwern is a bit too far for him to go to University, I still pay for a place in town for him to stay, when he want money he ask me, I says “You know where it is, take what you want” Yeah and he do what  I ask, he do.  But after he’s finished school, you know Cardiff films, place where they do films in Cardiff, he went somewhere he was something, something, I read.  The boss in Cardiff was looking for a young boy to work with him, the boss, yeah, can’t get better than that, anyway that’s what he tell me, and not only he tell me, somebody else told me the same thing.  So there was about six of them was  in the room, and he just walk in the through door and the boss turn, he says “I want him” just like that, he told me that, and somebody told me that, so I got to believe yes.

He say “Him, I want”, employ him straight away.  Even though he was quite quick, when he start filming with them, with the crew, he start taking film already, I says “That is one of the best jobs you could get anywhere, before long you gonna be big, big star, you could be the boss, himself, cos if the boss like you, he just pick you from anywhere, he believe in you and he don’t even know you”. So (?) One day, night before, he say “Dad” I say “(Ralph?)”, he says “Dad, I need some money”,  I say “You know where, take what you want” cos I don’t hide money from him at all, sometime I got 5, 6, £10,000, they know where it is, take what you want; and he run away to Bristol, [no] Liverpool with a white girl, he live through everything you know.  So when I see them, he didn’t come back home, he didn’t phone me, my heart start beating faster and faster, because when somebody do something like that it’s the first time, you get kind of scared, and once the home time pass, if you was there you could hear it beating, my heart was beating so fast, you know what I mean.  I say to myself “Something wrong”, what I don’t know because he don’t have the phone on him, so I can’t even phone him, I went down I put the television on, but I can’t even hear the television, he didn’t come home; I hardly sleep that night, he stay a year or so, and then when he come home, he tell me, I says “What did I tell you before?” I say “you phone, you got, in this country, that is the only way you can get in touch with one another if you walk away from home, you’re not home, don’t change it, cos that’s why I could get in touch with you and you can get in touch with me”, he change it, I can’t get...
About two years after that he come knocking the door, see he knock the door and I heard it was with the key. I say but that must be him, because nobody got my key.  (I says?) where you come from? He says “Dad I’m close to...” Liverpool, I say “What you go Liverpool for?” he say “My girlfriend”.  I say “You leave your work and everything you got, the best job you have in the world, and go there with a white girl, in Liverpool, you don’t even know her, who you going to spend? how you going to live?” and he’s got high blood pressure, you know the worst one you have, OK.  I says “How you going to live?” I say “You got to think, use that [head], less than that [heart]”. Last time I see him, maybe over five years now, the Mother was changing husband and changing place and he want come and give Mother hand to change, to go somewhere else, I haven’t seen him since, never write me, I dunno, that’s it.  I sell my house, come to down here.

The person down is (making noise?) all the time, all the time, night and day you know, I got to plug in my ears, you know the thing you got to put on the head and to listen? I got to put that too and turn it up.  So I just say well you know, as long as he bless me, I don’t care about there, there or there.  I don’t listen to him, if I listen to my temper, I probably be locked up probably because I kick the door down, come here and I take him apart, and that’s how I live, in a world of not mine, a world is a lot of trouble.  You see me here laughing and joking, that’s not my life at all, my life is worse than you know.  Everyday he make the noise, I don’t know what I do, I didn’t do him anything, when I come in the house, he didn’t even know somebody was in the house.  One day he was making noise, I knock the door I says “Hi “he says “Hi” he say, “Who are you?” I says “I live downstairs” he say “I don’t know anybody downstairs” I says “I been living six, seven weeks, downstairs, but you making noise, what is the reason, you make noise, is it a reason that you make any noise?” he didn’t answer, I say “Is it a reason to make noise, if you got a reason to make noise, you could make noise, but why don’t you tell me before you start making noise” he didn’t answer, he hasn’t stopped the noise up to now. 
The first day I went to see, to bring my (?) down, he was making the noise, and he’s still making the noise, I told you that before, remember, he’s still making the noise.  I go to sleep with plug in my ears, and I don’t know why he make noise, I don’t know because we’re in the house, when I get up in the morning, I get up, take my tablet, medicine and all that, have a bit of a wash quick and (?) and him in the house.  I just wish I could do something to get him to disappear or something, and that’s it, that’s my life.


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